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It is my endeavor to record as many reunions (as God gives me the opportunity) with as much emphasis upon the occasion and not as much on personalities. Having said that, it is truly difficult not to mention certain persons and you will forgive me if I become a tad sentimental within these short paragraphs.

I am astounded and profoundly impressed by the organisation of this event each and every year. For the second time Ashley Williams and his team gave us all a weekend to remember.

Having secured my accommodation after driving from London's Heathrow airport, I ventured out to a watering hole that I knew would have a few old favorites swinging the proverbial lamp. You will forgive me for not being as camera active this year as in previous years, but the truth be known I retreated from the Chief's Mess bar after the display due to acute congestion, at the bar. More of that later.

Living in the USA since 1992 there are many things that an ex patriot Brit' crave and one of them are good ol' fish n' chips. So, knowing that as I walked past the pub 'Invincible', there were chums already deep in conversation, I perambulated on to the 'Hard' where there is very good 'chippie' sitting opposite HMS Warrior. Let me tell you that the weather for the duration of my visit to the UK was nothing less than perfect and this particular Saturday afternoon was pleasant and with very comfortable temperatures.

I took a call from a mate of mine who I missed so badly last year, one Tony Oliver. Tony was on his way to the Invincible from (it's hard not to say Vicky Barracks) Nelson and I decided to walk back in that direction in order to meet him and his entourage. In tow were Alan Webb, (not seen 'im since 95?) Bob Graham and the inimitable Sid Sheard. By the way, Sid appeared to be and indeed WAS looking in perfect health since his recent spell in the sickbay. You will see in the few but poignant photos that accompany this small epistle.

We, that is to say, "the throng", were grateful and joyful to have in our midst two personalities that have braved our sickbay with identical complaints. John Wright travelled all the way from Spain and Huw Morris all the way from South Wales. I know that everyone will concur that it was humbling and a privilege to have them both within our grasp for a weekend that must go down in history as one of the best, if not THE best!

On to the main event, the Band Display and the remainder of our weekend. Assembling in the gymnasium after our complementary 'tot' in the bar, the masses took a seat and we all sensed that something very different was going to take place in contrast to previous years, as good as they all were. The presentation, the atmosphere, lighting and the martial display was beyond any reasonable doubt, perfect. The combination of music and marching has in my estimation not ever been executed as succinctly as this. If you are reading this as a curious observer and have not been to a reunion for a considerable period, then you truly must shake off all inhibition and support this event that has grown into iconic stature. I dare not say more, as there truly are no better epithets to describe the evening.

Courtesy of Brian Thorogood
Video 01
Video 2
Reunion 2009 Junior Band Display - HMS Nelson - Portsmouth
Coming soon...
Edited by Laderzi

After the display we returned to the bar. I am informed that next year there will be better management of it. Say no more!

The Sunday service found the cathedral full to the brim. This year is the 20th anniversary of the atrocity that took Deal into the history books for all the wrong reasons. That said, the names and references to the musicians who were murdered were mentioned by the minister and included as part of the whole reason that we visit and pay homage to the fallen of conflicts past. Lt Col Nick Grace directed the orchestra along with the cathedral choir and organ collectively performing thoughtfully chosen repertory.

I should bring to your attention that there are a dedicated group who like to congregate at the RMA Eastney after the service and indeed there was a fabulous turnout. This year the bar stayed open beyond what used to be perhaps a 3pm closing time and I'm given to understand that the times have been relaxed officially for the foreseeable future.

Some of the old Faithfull's find themselves down-town Pompey at Wetherspoons on the Sunday night reunion weekend. The accompanying photo selection gives a raw impression of how much fun we all have.

Great to see you all!

Let's do it again next year!

Richard Valentine (Webmaster)
Laderzi (Web Designer)

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